On January 15th, US President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks.
The package proposal includes investing $20 billion in a national vaccination program, $1,400 stimulus checks and expanding unemployment insurance supplements to $400 per week.
“During this pandemic, millions of Americans through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” Biden said during a nearly 25-minute speech Thursday. “There is real pain, overwhelming the real economy.”
“There’s no time to waste. We have to act, and we have to act now,” he said.
Biden noted that this was the first of a two-part plan to in the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he would introduce a recovery plan in February 2021 during his address to a joint session of Congress.
Biden’s proposed relief package comes several weeks after Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package in December, which the president-elect said at the time was a “down payment.”
The COVID-19 relief plan will build off the bipartisan relief legislation passed in December.
Biden is suggesting $1,400 stimulus checks in addition to the $600 direct payments passed in December.
Democrats, as well as President Donald Trump, pushed for $2,000 in the December legislation. As such, Biden plans to do exactly what Trump planned, at least in term of stimulus.
The plan also lays out the national vaccination program, which will be in partnership with states, tribes and territories, will deploy mobile vaccination units to areas that are hard to reach and make the vaccine free to everyone in the United States.
The relief plan also calls for $50 million to expand testing for COVID-19, purchase rapid tests, invest in expanding lab capacity and help school and local governments implement testing protocols.
“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far,” he said, adding that he “will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated.”
The relief plan also includes:
- $170 billion to help reopen schools, as well as provide financial relief to students
- Expand to 14 weeks paid sick and family and medical leave
- $25 billion in rental assistance and an additional $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs
- Extending the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increase to September 2021
- $15 billion for grants to more than 1 million small businesses
- A $20 billion investment to Indian Country to support tribal governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour
Biden’s goal is to provide 100 million vaccinations during the first 100 days of his administration starting January 20th.
“My No. 1 priority is getting vaccine in people’s arms,” Biden said Monday as he received his second dose. “It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to be easy. But we can get it done.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a joint statement, “We will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.”
“These proposals by the Biden-Harris administration will be critical to getting our country through this challenging period and towards a period of recovery,” the statement continued. “We echo the president-elect’s call for bipartisan action on his proposal and hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to quickly enact it.”
Biden concluded by saying that homelessness, unemployment, hunger and business failings needed to be countered.
“The bottom line is the job report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses now. Now,” Biden said Friday, while introducing economic nominees. “Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but a larger purpose to avoid a broader economic cost that exists out there, that will happen due to long-term unemployment, hunger, homelessness and business failings.”
And then ended with saying he hoped to work with both parties in US Congress, namely the Democratic party, and the empty husk of the Republican party.
“I know what I just described does not come cheaply,” he said. “But failure to do so will cost us dearly.”
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